Thursday, September 4, 2008

Confessions galore

Thanks so much for all the kinds words and congratulations, it means a lot to me. This summer was definitely one of growth. I can’t believe how big my son is. He is a little boy now. See?

But it wasn’t just growth for him. It was growth for me as well. I have a confession. In fact, I have two. They are the entire reason I started this blog and named it Pumproom Confessions. I never intended to tell friends or family about this blog. I just wanted an outlet to get some things off of my chest (no pun intended) in an anonymous environment. But then I realized it was a good way to share stories and photos, so I invited my friends and family, and I became a writing wimp. I didn’t want to be judged. Not by friends or family and not by those who stopped by the Pump Room regularly. I did that well enough by myself. So I stuck to safe topics and just mentioned the other things in passing.

Confession One
I had post partum depression, something which I didn’t get help for until my son was almost a year old. I thought it would go away on its own. I thought, for good reason, that it would go away when I stopped breast feeding / pumping. It didn’t. So I started seeing a specialist who has helped me work through it. My PPD manifested in a much milder manner than some, thank goodness, but one that created a lot of issues for me. While I was able to function and able to tenderly care for and love my son, I felt no joy after his birth. It was like I was swallowed up. Oh, I was glad / proud of my son and loved sharing stories, but I always felt like somehow I was going through the motions. I never felt happy, even though I was aware that I should. I never felt unhappy either. But I knew I was missing something and that something was very wrong.

Blogging was a savior for me. It allowed me to relive moments and memories. It was therapeutic for me. It made me feel normal, whereas I spent a lot of time in my everyday life wondering WTF is wrong with me? So thank you for being part of this. And if you are a new mom and hurting, please see someone. It helps. I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but I just can’t tell you the joy I get now out of family life and my son and my pregnancy. I’m back to “me” again.

Confession Two
My second confession is I experienced D-MER (dysphoric milk ejection reflex). And a rather bad case of it, at that. Breastfeeding and pumping were not good experiences for me. About 50% of the time I felt a surge of rage (and I mean RAGE) when I breastfed. The other 50% of the time, I would feel anything from mild irritation to pretty darn angry. I can’t even express to you how complicated the feelings are when you do something that is suppose to be so good and it goes so wrong. Of course, when I got the real bad feelings, I stopped the nursing session immediately and got a bottle of expressed milk or a formula/milk combo. I found ways that made it easier.

I was in contact with my lactation consultant and it baffled her. I even emailed my local LLL director (I was to embarrassed to call or go to a meeting). She did some research and came up with nothing. Nobody ever heard of this reaction. I felt broken. I was extremely hard on myself for this, though I obviously couldn’t help it. I should have switched to formula only, but I didn’t. I was determined to a fault, and I think that part of being depressed was to force myself to do something that so obviously wasn’t working. Maybe I even felt as though I deserved it, or that it was the only thing I could offer my child, though I never consciously thought those things.

At 10 months my supply plummeted and I shelved the pump. I had quit breastfeeding at six months in part because my son teethed so early and wasn’t grasping the concept of “No Biting!!” but also because I was exhausted from dealing with negative feelings while breast feeding and then dealing with the reality of experiencing those feelings in the first place. Pumping yielding the same reaction, but I wasn’t holding my son. It made a difference.

The first time I went to see the women’s specialist, she directed me to Though I was no longer breastfeeding/pumping, I cried. I was so relieved that I wasn’t alone and that there was a reason for what I felt. It wasn’t just me.

Am I going to breastfeed this time? (Hey, did ya know I’m pregnant??) I am going to try. I have nothing to lose. I’ve got some tips from D-MER to go on. I have support. If those feelings come back though, I will stop immediately. I am committing to not committing to it. Hehe.

Again, blogging has helped me greatly. I was able to highlight the look-back-and-laugh side of pumping and the daily supply obsession that women go through. But the whole confession aspect of this blog was lost. I wanted to write about what I felt daily because if ANYONE else felt like this, I wanted them to know that they weren’t alone and didn’t have to suffer and hold all of their feelings inside. Since I’m no medical expert, I’m glad to be able to point to a Web site run by a lactation consultant who also experienced D-MER.

Did you read all the way to the end??!! You win the booby prize. :-) ahhhhhhhhhhh… the boob puns never get old.

But seriously? THANK YOU.

E-mail me anytime. anne[dot]pumproom[at]gmail[dot]com
AFF: I didn’t get your email! Stupid, Yahoo. I get so much in my spam folder that I stopped going through it. I imagine you ended up in the spam folder. :(